ROCKFORD - Police say it's a crime
of opportunity and people have the ability to lessen that opportunity for
criminals, but a recent rash of pickpockets in the
"The new twist is the offenders are now, after they steal the credit card, they go to a commercial establishment and they'll buy several high-dollar either gift cards or pre-paid credit cards."
the gift cards or pre-paid credit cards, Welsh says they use them to make some
pretty high-end purchases - most of the purchases are made in
"You know a lot of times people will be grocery shopping and they'll walk away from their personal belongings in their cart and go pick up something off the shelves," said Welsh.
"I'd suggest keeping your items, your valuables on your person."
Although many of those criminals have targeted purses and wallets left unattended at grocery stores, many suspects also target those distracted by things like WI-FI in coffee shops. Welsh says though that grocery stores and coffee shops aren't the only places you should be concerned about.
"Albeit a store that sells merchandise or a grocery store, I'd be careful at local restaurants too. Whenever you're out at these locations you need to keep your wallet and purse close to you," said Welsh.
Welsh says there are simple things you can do that will make you less of a target to fall victim to a pickpocket.
"You can keep a real close eye on your personal belongings, keep them on your person and keep your wallet in your pocket and keep it close"
Many of the suspects are still at large. Police have provided surveillance photos of many of the offenders and are available for your viewing by clicking here. If you recognize any of these suspects you are urged to call CrimeStoppers at (815) 963-7867 or the Rockford Police Department at (815) 987-5824.